I’m sure you’ve heard by now, but we had an earthquake over here on the east coast yesterday. I know you west coasters are rolling your eyes at me thinking, “5.8? That’s a piece of cake!” But for those of us who’ve never experienced an earthquake before, it was a pretty dramatic experience. I’ve heard that folks in NYC and DC thought that they might be under some sort of terrorist attack, which is completely understandable given our country’s history over the past 10 years. I think that would be incredibly frightening.
On to my story. We’re at the beach in NJ this week for our final hurrah of the summer. It’s not all vacation, but it sure is nice taking a two hour break from my work day to put my face in the sun and toes in the sand. Yesterday afternoon Tyler and I were in his parent’s beach house answering emails and working on songs. I decided it was time for a beach break so I grabbed a chair and walked down to the beach. The house is 2 blocks from the beach and it really only takes 3 or 4 minutes to get down to the ocean. When I arrived at the shore everyone was standing up, walking around confused. I found Tyler’s mom and she asked me if I’d felt the earthquake. Somehow, I hadn’t. Moments later Tyler was running down to the beach to see if we were alright. He said the house shook violently for a full minute.
Looking back, this seems silly, but we were on a beach, and we had no idea where the center of the earthquake was. We also really don’t have a clue about plates and where their located. This just isn’t something you think about on the east coast. I looked out into the ocean and felt a little afraid. No longer beautiful, it seemed eerily large and ominous. What if the earthquake was out there? Should we leave the beach? Should we leave the island? There’s only one way off the island.
We decided to head back to the house. On the way there someone texted Tyler and told him there was a tsunami warning. Again, we hadn’t been back to the house so we really didn’t know what had happened. It all seems silly now. I began to hurry back to the house, but Tyler kept stopping to talk with the neighbors. And this is when it happened. My huge moral dilemma. I kept thinking things like:
“Tyler come on, we need to get in our cars and to the bridge.”
“Wait, maybe we should warn people.”
“No, then we won’t get to the bridge first and we’ll never make it off the island.”
“But…all these people….”
“There’s nothing you can do for them, just hurry.”
It was awful. Moments later Tyler came in and informed me that there wasn’t a tsunami warning. The center of the quake was in Virginia. We’d been worried for nothing.
But then I got to thinking. My thoughts from the tsunami scare plagued me for the rest of the day. They made me question so many things about myself, but the biggest question I had was this: Do I really love people? I mean, after all, my first reaction was to get myself off the island. Immediately. Yes, I thought about everyone else a moment later, but my first thought was about ME. And the rest of my thoughts, while they included other people, really leaned towards only taking care of myself.
I felt terrible. And so confused. And I realized that I am so very small. And so very human. And so very much in need of Jesus to change my heart.
What a humbling experience!
Oh – and I did a little research this morning on earthquakes and epilepsy. Turns out many folks with epilepsy think that they’re having a seizure during the earthquake because the shaking of the house or the ground is very much like the shaking of a seizure. Having a seizure is hands down the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. I’m so glad I didn’t have a moment of thinking I was having one yesterday. What’s more, earthquakes can also cause seizures in many people with epilepsy. How amazing is it that I was walking outside and never felt the quake? Maybe I was walking in rhythm with the shaking and didn’t notice it? Who knows? Praise the Lord!
Breathe in, breathe out. Today is a new day.